Perhaps the nation's "obesity epidemic" is something that can be cured by a few changes in home decoration.
I was reading the New York Times this morning, as I am wont to do, and I clicked on a disturbing article about obesity. It was disturbing on two counts: One, the raw data was disturbing - the New York Times reports that 66% of Americans are overweight or obese, and that 33 percent of American women are obese. The other disturbing aspect of the article was that the author concludes that the womb, in other words innate factors in a person's composition, are what determine whether a person will be obese or not. Americans love this kind of thinking -- it's not my fault, blame it on genetics.
Contrary to the New York Times, I believe that obesity can be avoided by changing one's lifestyle. What's more definitive of lifestyle than the home? Here are 10 home decorating ideas that could prevent or cure obesity:
1. Place your television in a room without a couch
This sounds ridiculous, I know, but it works. Laziness is something you can use to your advantage: If it takes effort or discomfort to sit and watch TV, you'll spend a lot less time doing it. Put your TV in your unfurnished basement or attic. You'll spend a lot less time sitting and watching it.
2. If you must keep your TV in the living room, unplug and cover it
One thin woman I know keeps her TV unplugged and covered by a piece of decorative fabric, with a statue on top of it. She takes out the TV and watches a video once in a while, as a treat, and then unplugs it and covers it up again.
3. Throw out your TV altogether
I've been living without TV for ten years. I'm neither a hippie nor a Luddite -- I just don't like wasting time on the couch. Also, I like the look of a living room sans TV. The focal point of a living room without a TV is human interaction -- couches face each other, not the boob tube.
4. Keep food in the kitchen, not all over the house
Eating for any reason other than intake of vitamins is the fastest ticket to obesity you can buy. Replace those decorative candy bowls with green plants or vases of fresh cut flowers. Ditto for the office.
5. Decorate your kitchen with fruit
If you're in overeating mode, you'll reach for whatever is available. Keep a colorful bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or table - it doubles as decoration, is packed with nutrients, and is much lower in calories than the pint of premium ice cream in the freezer.
6. Make room for exercise
This is reason in itself to de-clutter your house. Most people I know say they would do a little morning yoga or some push-ups and crunches, if only they had room to do it. Make room. I live in a studio apartment - not a large space - but I have plenty of room to spread out my yoga mat because I decided to omit the ubiquitous coffee table from my floor plan. Evaluate which pieces of furniture are absolutely necessary, and give the others away. If you must, must have a large coffee table in your living space, put it on wheels so that you can push it out of the way.
7. Buy a basic kitchen timer
Set a countdown timer with a loud ring when you are watching television and surfing the internet. Get up and do yard work, house cleaning, or some other physical activity when the timer rings.
8. Make your home bicycle friendly
Read Steve Graham's article on easy and cheap bike storage ideas, and reap the health benefits of biking.
9. Put your lights on timers
It's hard to get up out of bed and exercise before work. When multiple alarm clocks didn't work for me, I put my lamps on timers. The lamps automatically turn on at 6 AM. The light, in addition to my alarm clock, gets me out of bed early and onto my yoga mat.
10. Make your bed and keep your bedroom clean
You are more likely to stay up late surfing the internet and munching if your bedroom is a dark, messy cave. Simply making your bed, so that it looks inviting, will help you to break the late-night surfing/watching/snacking habit in favor of getting some digestion-restoring, metabolism-balancing beauty sleep.